(12f) 400 ppm CO2 in the air - Will science meet religion and surpass?

Recently, we reached the symbolic and scientific important value of 400 ppm CO2 (carbon dioxide, see Fig. 1) in the atmosphere (ppm = parts per million). Although it is a very low concentration, the CO2 levels haven't been as high as today over the past few million years and we know how differently the world looked in those days. This value will temporarily go down again as trees will absorb some of it now that they get leaves (= science). It will be interesting to see whether scientists are right when they warn for this concentration. But maybe science will join religion because religious people say that gods will become angry. Both scientists and holy books predict there may come a time when there will be droughts and flooding, when people will have to move to other regions to survive with increasing tensions in society over space, food and water that may result in wars and diseases. Both scientists and gods are angry because people don't want to change their behaviour. Scientists however think the transition may go on for many decades so people think it will not happen in their own life (does this means they don't mind it happens after their death to their own and other people's children?) while gods say that people will live longer so they can see the consequences of their actions but peace will return after quite a short but terrible period. At least some hope.

Fig. 1: Chemical formula of CO2 molecule. Each line represents two electrons, thus 4 electrons immediately around the C (carbon) and 8 in total while 6 electrons immediately around the O (oxygen) and also 8 in total.

Possible scenarios

Either scientists and gods are wrong or both are right in their doom scenarios. I hope both are wrong, although that means some sections of science and religion are rubbish. Thus maybe climate change will not happen and those scientists will loose there job. Maybe we do not exterminate many animals and plants and thus they do not need protection. Then we have proof gods do not exist and thus priests too will loose their job as people will realise those revelations were wrong although most people will celebrate this. In summary, our planet is in perfect shape.
In this scenario, after Prince Charles spoke against big businesses that continue denying there is any problem (Guardian, 09/05/2013), climate change deniers were right to condemn him for scaring people. Although when they are wrong, they will probably be the people who will do everything to save themselves, even when it hurts others. (By the way, climate change deniers are also people who disagree every people should have the same basic human rights).

Or we have bad luck and gods knew thousands of years ago what scientists know today but also that we would continue misbehaving, even with our increasing knowledge that things may go wrong, and certainly that an important section of society would continue to deny there are problems so they can continue doing their own business. Then we may have proof of the existence of gods, although I will only believe someone may fall out of heaven to save us when I see it happening. And many climate change deniers are religious who believe their gods who promised a better period afterwards. Indeed, oceans are acidifying and contain many chemicals but the melting poles deliver clean water and thus will dilute but the transition may be violent not good as long as the "new" cold and "old" warm water are not mixed (see Fig. 2). But one interesting point may be that we now have reached the knowledge of gods although not yet all knowledge or there will no longer be questions to be answered; and thus we can continue following the path of science in our search for a better life while preventing excesses in future. Scientifically spoken a very interesting time, but for present life a pity.
In this scenario, after Prince Charles spoke against big businesses that continue denying there is any problem, those accepting climate change should be happy with his support as for ones he listens to scientists and helps them. But still he is attacked, e.g. by Peter Wilby, former editor of the New Statesman and republican who accepts climate change happens (Guardian, 11/05/2013) but still doesn't want that the Prince speaks, starting his comment by saying it is hard to disagree with Prince Charles on this issue but then continues to say that a future king should remain silent. Indeed, royals should stay neutral but a future Head of State should sometimes ask the politicians to take responsibilities because climate change may kill billions, including their own children and grandchildren and thus it also concerns the Prince. I find it a big problem when people who agree that climate change happens say he should not speak simply because they are against the monarchy. In the past one would be happy with the support of royals (e.g. they were given honorary membership to increase the status of organisations so more people would join and then receive information from experts within the organisation so royals didn't need to speak (although some behaved stupid and destroyed both their own and the organisation's reputation, e.g. killing animals the organisation tries to protect)) while today they agree with climate change deniers that the prince should be silent. Who then at this moment can still speak? Scientists are not believed because after decades nothing much happened (yet), princes have to shut up while climate change deniers make most of the noise and thus are believed.
Fig. 2: (A) Cold melt water and (B) warm "old" water may cause imbalances, resulting in storms that may mix the waters and thus restore the balance in water temperature. Also a larger difference between warmer land and cooler water is possible.

Tipping points

It doesn't mean exactly 400 ppm CO2 causes troubles because otherwise nothing happened over the weekend and thus the theory is rubbish. Indeed, slightly higher is also possible and spread in time. At this very moment people in parts of Europe ask where is spring because of the cold winds and often grey sky, depressing peoples mood (and that during a crisis that already causes depression), suggesting climate change is not happening. Still, this may be one tipping point. Articles in the journals Scientific America (The winters of our discontent, 12/2012 and Quick-Change Planet: Do Global Climate Tipping Points Exist?, 03/2013) and New Scientist (Arctic thaw may be first in cascade of tipping point, 27/02/2013) described how the melting of the Arctic ice (celebrated by oil and gas companies because they hope they can now drill cheaper in the Arctic region for even more climate change gasses), may have been a tipping point as it results in changes in Arctic weather patterns, with yet unclear consequences except for the regions wildlife and humans. New Scientists (Ruined, 4/08/2012) described e.g. how a cooler Atlantic results in less food production in the Middle East with major consequences as I described before. These tipping points may strengthen each other in a cascade effect (kind of the opening of seals or sounds of trumpets that are played after each other), although some scientists don't believe in these points on a global scale. But even when the latter are right, do we want to test their ideas? And do we want more air, water and ground pollution that causes illnesses? It is the chaos theory (science again): change one parameter in the system and get another outcome than what was normally expected.

What do holy books tell us about the future?

In the past, religious people had more knowledge than ordinary people. Read the Old Testament and you read what to do when there is an outbreak of a contagious skin disease. Indeed, people had to avoid contact to prevent the disease from spreading while it describes how to determine the disease is cured (the extras about killing animals as offers are over the top but were probably payment). But now many religious people refuse to learn and always return to the old books from the past, ignoring and condemning new information. And even this was predicted. The Qur'an quotes that God made men from mud and then commanded the angels to bow before humans. The angels asked why as they were made from fire, something much nobler than mud. God responded by saying that humans had certain wisdom angels hadn't. They tested humans and indeed, they knew the names of many things the angels didn't know. And thus most angels bowed, but some refused, saying they were made from much nobler material than humans and thus morally better than humans. God allowed those fallen angels to rule over humanity with the knowledge they had but warn them that one day fire will welcome them because they will rule humanity badly. Islam started as a religion where people were encouraged to gain knowledge while Christian Europe was still in the dark ages (although they were able to build enormous cathedrals) and then its decline started after the invasions of the Mongols and crusaders while now fanatics are ruling the religion and the region is in decline.

Indeed, over the past centuries there were many leaders who tried to keep their people stupid while they were frustrated when ordinary humans gained ever more knowledge. Many of these leaders looked back to the past, claiming they received their powers from gods while they misused their powers (e.g. independent thinkers were imprisoned or killed so ordinary people would fear to think for themselves). Sometimes religious people killed (e.g. burned) people who had different opinions (fallen angels don't like humans who think) while other times they were victims when they defended people against bad rulers or priests founded schools and hospitals (angels bowed) when they tried to do good.

Today humans no longer take religious people serious because the top behaves like fools (e.g. some say condoms do not protect against aids and thus they are no guardians of humans against illnesses but killers of the vulnerable). Today many humans gained knowledge and know more than the people who lead while many leaders can't accept this as it threatens their power. And thus some introduce laws that experts need to follow even when against reason (e.g. abortion is not allowed, even not to save a woman's life) although it is not bad there is some break on progress to allow reflection. However, good leaders do not fear those who know more as long as the leaders use their knowledge to make a better society. Many of old societies are angry they are no longer respected as in "the good old days". But they should not, they should give others the chance to progress as often they have the money while some use people with ideas for their own purposes because they still have the power to make or break careers while many people agree to be used (although what to do if the choice means work or the street?). And thus some use knowledge in bad ways. E.g. 3D-printers are developed in the hope they will improve our lives (e.g. printing bones) while already some use it to print weapons. Humans still look up to the old societies and thus are used by some of them but as humans progress, more people discover they were used and turn against them.

Then there is also the Book of Enoch. It claims to be written before the Flood and describes how fallen angels left heaven to live amongst humans, who took many women from men to reproduce (powerful men still do) while they first taught people some knowledge so humans would choose them as leaders while they made weapons to rule over humans and spread terror over the earth to increase their influence. Thus they used their knowledge for their own benefits and to suppress ordinary humans. Women liked their powers or were raped and thus these angels had many offspring. They became so powerful that humans became exploited and poor. But in the end, the fallen angels lived long enough to see how their greedy offspring started fighting amongst each other over who would be the leader. Just before the Flood the book mentions most humans were killed while also many of the descendants of the fallen ones were killed. Nevertheless, the surviving humans (Noah, his children and other descendants) had learnt enough to continue fighting with each other over power while they forgot that it let to the fall of the fallen angels.

Our own future

Although this all sounds very depressing, and it is, I think afterwards a better society will emerge. Firstly, oceans will be cleaner again as they become more diluted. Maybe even the air may become cleaner, although oxygen levels decreased over the millions of years. But we will change our behaviour for the better. New cities will emerge while people will accept animals and plants also need their space.

Whether we like it or not, religion will ones again become more important during this economical crisis and changing weather and then stop because people will be fed up with it as many religious people don't want to change, they stick to the past of very long ago. Already in Pakistan and Afghanistan women are prepared to die when they stand up against their religious "leaders" during elections. Although this doesn't necessarily mean we will no longer believe in gods, maybe on the contrary but differently, with our own interpretation. It would also mean I no longer have to write about religion (if I wanted to be a priest, I would have chosen it) although interpreting it my way can be fun. The future will be ours and indeed, the Bible stops with the revelations as afterwards we will behave well and thus there is no need any longer for gods to interfere. We will be able to organise our own society in a proper way so everyone will be able to live a decent life but without being able to profit from society. Although it will be a pity that many religions may end because they bring variety in society although mostly religions destroy each other.

Let me return to an example. At this moment, the Guardian reported that Canada wants to exploit its Tar fields while scientists (amongst them Prof James Hansen (the person who warned American Congress in 1988 of the dangers of climate change)) fear that than we can forget controlling climate change. The USA wants to approve pipelines to transport tar sand oil while the EU has proposals to penalise oil sources with higher carbon footprints but the UK opposes the EU's plan (if the EU wants the UK in, than probably they will follow the UK) and Canada threatens a trade war via the World Trade Organisation if the EU actions go ahead. As Canada and the UK support the exploitation, it is the duty of the next king (but also of the current queen) as Head of both states to tell their politicians to think twice. However, he should not enforce his will but the British and Canadians should accept the consequences, i.e. the EU may decide not to import products from an industry that pollutes too much. And as long as the EU penalises all oil from tar sand, than it does not discriminate and thus can go ahead even when some lawyers will disagree. That is why the EU can be a force for the good: to stand against big money of polluting industries and demand companies investigate in new energies that then can be sold to make billions. And when the EU doesn't take action against climate change, than it agrees it will fall together with other nations and should not blame others. By the way, if scientists are right, then maybe the UK may become inhabitable as it lays next to an ocean; even today parts of the UK are already disappearing under water and thus maybe it will not be the British people who decide they don't want Prince Charles as king but maybe the weather may decide Prince Charles will have no land to rule. Also water is pushed through the ground to surface inland as some islands already experience.

Another example that was even mentioned on the BBC-website is North Holland where earthquakes become stronger due to gas drilling. Unlimited amounts of money will be paid if something happens. But can you imagine after an earthquake also gas escapes? How to stop that? Although probably after the explosions no human needs to receive any payment any longer and that would save money if I am cynical. Do I exaggerate? Maybe. But if thick oil can escape from the Deepwater Horizon oil well at the bottom of the ocean, then how much easier can gas escape? These are possibilities that needs to be investigated as we can't wait to find out if I exaggerate. Otherwise, the Dutch king may loose many subjects and land.

Thus, the future will be as predicted by gods: we will no longer accept that some people benefit from polluting the air, water and ground unpunished because then they will not change their behaviour. Already Prof Hansen wants to file law courts against those who continue denying science and continue polluting. I completely support him on this, because pollution kills, even the children and grandchildren of kings, queens, presidents and those who pollute. And even when the climate change theory is rubbish, at least we can drink clean water, eat healthy food and breath clean air.

We will also integrate the newest advances of science (e.g. tablets will save millions of trees or if I am allowed to dream as others do, we may develop light-producing plants (although only in cities so the country side can be used to study the universe)) to minimise pollution or clean up rubbish. It will not be ideal because each time we do something, something is left (even when we fart) while sometimes we don't have the technology to clean. In the past, many used new technologies to increase their own power and wealth while in future we will use new technologies to improve our lives.

We will no longer accept that greed destroys us. Also other power institutions will no longer escape responsibilities such as bankers who take the savings of ordinary people and countries to pay themselves huge bonuses or churches where bishops protected priests who raped children so they didn't need to face justice (is already changing). Then it may take 1000 years or longer before it may go wrong again. Of course, we should never accept a new theory immediately, but when over a longer period the numbers of scientists who agree with the theory increase, then one can argue they may be right. Recent research shows there may be a rise of up to 4C as CO2 levels accelerate to increase although most extreme predictions about global warming seem to be unlikely (let us hope so) but we know from the past what may happen.

In conclusion, we have to learn from the past and from research to make today decisions that result in a good society and prevent disasters happen in the future. We should never ever take decisions for the now without thinking about the consequences for the future, certainly not when we know from the past what may happen. Who will win this battle in the end? Reason and the larger community and no longer greed and self-interest. What is the purpose of governments? To encourage people to live their dreams but control those whose ambitions threaten to hurt others and thus governments should equally give opportunities and protect others.

And thus when certain religious people and certain managers and politicians blame others for all that goes wrong in the world (such as gay people or women or the poor), do not believe them as all of us, especially we in the West, are responsible for climate change and the misery it brings. Because others, they do blame. Nevertheless, when a mad man will say gods are punishing the world for our sinful way of life, we sometimes have to agree to stay alive.

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